Noise is so prevalent in modern indie music, it may prove difficult to distinguish ones noise from another. Deerhoofs is special, emblazoned without routine on Kafe Mania! from their 2016 album The Magic. While steadier than some of their material, bridges form from sections in which the music cuts out, before detonations of distortion reel us back in sans warning, like a bazooka-in-the-face with less subsequent paperwork.
Since The Magic – and hell, over the course of Deerhoofs near-thirty-year run – the subdued Deerhoof has been exhibited, alongside the attentively courteous Deerhoof; blood boiling due to political angst, whilst creating dainty projects with Bob Marley and Staple Singers covers (Mountain Moves), conceptual art class show-and-tell (Future Teenage Cave Artists), and full-blown covers albums with a live setup (Love-Lore).
The DIY approach of Actually, You Can, plumbed via sound file-trading from bandmate to bandmate, makes for a noisy resurgence. Theres a lot that may be discussed, including more politically conscious discourse, but that noise, alongside a recurrent baroque undertone, is where its at.
Results dont vary as much as they refuse to give in to predictability. The tone created is an effervescent spill stickier than a cinema floor, emanating through the changing moods of We Grew, and We Are Astonished and Ancient Mysteries, Described, with brains tampered by authoritarianism, immense freedom, and an artistic sincerity akin to the bands recent cover of Sleater-Kinney’s Don’t Talk Like.
Handel-style passages throb with fuzz through Be Unbarred, O Ye Gates of Hell, visiting the distant past to juxtapose the Bowie glam riffage in Satomi Matsuzakis vocal melodies, most of which consist of mentions of onions and tomatoes, like an old-timey grocery store ablaze.
While an underlying pain swells through the noise of Actually, You Can, closing piece Divine Comedy is overjoyed with noise, accepting the flames of the world by moulding a sentimentality that makes for the most left-field climax. Somehow, whether intuitive or raw, Deerhoof might actually be at their best right now where learning from themselves is concerned.
This learning results in Plant Thief; less a song, more whirlwind in human form, mindsets swaying rapidly amidst irregular tremolos and unsatisfied rhythms. Guitar riffs that resemble heated conversations attack through Department of Corrections; one line shreds into the track like a razor, as if offering a hot take, then the other interjects with one of its own.
And when Deerhoofs collective head is firmly screwed-on, barn burners like Scarcity Is Manufactured occur. They scoured the earth for sound; the song meets somewhere between the realms of Afrocentric dance and throwback Latin Pop, utilising the most erratic rhythmic style – a cloak-and-dagger heartbeat – to remind the listener that this is Deerhoofs take.
Deerhoof’s take is somehow improving. Were almost twenty albums into the canon and they’re applying their noise with the boundlessness of youth, as if while the world is taken over by more and more villains, the application and know-how of the hero stays the same.
More-so than anything, Deerhoof are still differentiating their noise from the noise of others.